Syracuse Field Hockey’s Season Grades (So Far)

Friday, Oct 06, 2023 at 10:36 am by Sports Editor

By Max Gifford | @GiffMD

Sitting at 8-3 overall, No. 12 Syracuse field hockey has just eclipsed the two-thirds mark of its 2023 campaign, with only five games to play before the ACC Tournament in Charlottesville, VA.

While it’s not the midway point of the season, it’s well over that in fact, that means it’s a fitting occasion for grades. In my analysis, each group based on positions will be assigned a traditional letter grade based on the extent to which they’ve either exceeded, met, or fallen short of expectations coming into the season.

Forwards: B+

There were a lot of question marks heading into the season for this unit, especially with no Quirine Comans or Sabine van den Eijnden to head the scoring for the Orange. The best storyline for this group of forwards has been junior Olivia Bell. The St. Louis product posted a multi-goal affair in her first game of the season after only seeing time in four games prior to that. It may come as a surprise, but Bell leads all SU players in points against ACC opponents this season with five. She’s somehow the veteran on that core though, and has to lead a very young group of forwards, who have been impressive in their own ways.  From two grad students and a senior leading the unit, to now a junior with freshman phenomena including Hattie Madden, Sarah Smalley, and Amber Coebergh. The first years, while they may not have the most points to their name, have put up some big points when it matters and have been a beacon of hope for this very young squad for years to come. To say the least, this mass was a pleasant surprise that nobody could’ve predicted coming into the season.

Midfielders: A-

I want to give them a straight up “A”, I really do, but the thing that has been a trend with this unit is lulls in its offensive spurts. At the beginning of the season, Pieke van de Pas was arguably the most dominant two-way player in all of the NCAA. Until recently though, the Weert native was on a four-game scoreless streak, which seems like miniscule amount of time, but in reality, that’s a fourth of the season right there. Additionally, it’s taken grad student Charlotte de Vries to come back into her element in her new role of midfielder in 2023. The only four-time All-American in SU program history hasn’t collected even half the amount of points (19) she collected in 2022 (40). Yes, she’s not at forward anymore and is now playing on both sides of the ball, but without Quirine Comans in the equation anymore, de Vries was likely coming into this season dubbed as that next raw scorer and that hasn’t been the case. I did bash on the top two scoring threats from that unit, but the depth of these midfielders is what makes this group the best this team has. The short list of these younger athletes that have stepped up in big ways include Lieke Leeggangers, Bo Madden, Cato Schreinemacher, and Willemijn Boogert. With a midfield unit as deep as this, all of them have done a good job of picking its moments to step up in the play, and stay back, which is why they get the highest score on this report card. Sorry if that spoils the rest of this article.

Backs: E

Sure, this may not be a “traditional” grade like I said originally, but the only reason this collective isn’t an F is because of one person that starts with an E. Yup, you guessed it: Eefke van den Nieuwenhof. The most recent ACC Offensive Player of the Week has been on a tear this season. Leading the ACC in nearly every offensive category, the Dutch captain has been on a different level this season. She has undoubtedly shown consistently to be the best player on this 2023 squad. As for the rest of her unit, the same cannot be said. Now, it’s not fair to ask every back to have a conference-leading 26 points, but the only other points out of the backline have been Myrthe van Bolhuis (3) and Sienna Pegram (2). The biggest setback has been to a Second-Team All-ACC member last season in Jannemijn Deutman. The sophomore has not started a single game, and instead of being a co-leader for this defensive unit has sat on the end of the bench to the extent of not playing in three of the Orange’s contests this season. 

Goaltenders: F

It may seem cruel, but when your team has the most goals against in the ACC, and the goaltender is 7th out of 7th in every conference goalkeeper statistic, there’s only one grade that can be given. It’s unfair to put all the blame on Brooke Borzymowski, but it’s worth noting the junior has nearly regressed in every statistical category since her freshman year. Her goals against average, which is currently 2.141 has jumped nearly a goal more since the Maryland product began her career at the ‘Cuse when she surrendered 1.166 scores per contest. It doesn’t help that the main backup for Borzymowski, Louise Pert, has been sidelined all with injury. As a result, the only option off the bench is Abby Neitch, which to her credit, has been untouchable. Despite only playing 75 minutes, the redshirt freshman has stopped both tests put on her so far. Will SU turn to Neitch down the stretch…doubtful, but she serves as the lone positive for this unit.

Coaches: C+

This category is not a statistical analysis, but more of an evaluation grade. Nobody could’ve thought bringing in a new head coach in Lynn Farquhar would be easy, and especially along with mostly an entire new staff behind her, but I think at this point in the year, it’s better than I expected. After getting shutout in Durham against Duke in their first ACC bout, questions lingered if Syracuse could contend with its conference competitors. However, after back-to-back double overtime contests against Atlantic Coast opponents, the Orange have shown much better conditioning and the ability to persevere against better competition. A lot of that credit goes to the coaching staff in my opinion. Upcoming matches against top-5 opponents in North Carolina and Louisville will show what this team is made of, but to me, this coaching staff has continued the trend of building an SU squad that is consistently towards the top of the rankings, but I call that meeting, not exceeding expectations.

Whether you believe the grading is too harsh or not harsh enough, there is still plenty of time left in the semester to bump up (or goodness forbid tank) a grade for a specific unit. No matter if they’re on the honor roll or at the risk of being held back, the next test for 12th ranked Syracuse comes this Sunday in the Garden State for its second straight Ivy league opponent in Princeton. First push is slated for noon. Be sure to follow @GiffMD on X for live updates and continued coverage of the Orange through the remainder of the season and through the postseason.